Sunday, 2 March 2014

Street Naming Conventions after a Yes vote

Union Street will not be an acceptable street name after a Yes vote
Union Street  - an unacceptable street name after a Yes vote
You know, so many people have been talking in the last few days about Standard Life and other companies leaving Scotland if the vote is Yes in September. Some companies like British Airways don't seem to mind and will make the most of it either way. Auchterness of course isn't going anywhere for very obvious reasons but there are many issues to address if Scotland is indeed to set out on its own voyage and I like to think that we are on top of everything.

As an expert planner with serious responsibilities there are numerous issues relating to independence that fall within the remit of town planning. On Friday at Auchterness, we discussed the very sensitive subject of street names - post UK. I've been doing some research into this across the European continent as well as further afield - when revolutions have occurred it is quite common for streets to be renamed. My concern does not stop at street names but for now, I have developed some Draft Conventions for Renaming Scottish Streets that may be useful to planners throughout the country. Here are some common problem street names which may have to go post-Independence:
  • Royal Terrace, Avenue or Lane
  • Victoria Road, Street, Terrace, Avenue or Lane
  • Edward Road, Street, Terrace, Avenue or Lane
  • Queen's Road, Street, Terrace, Avenue or Lane
  • Osborne Road, Street, Terrace, Avenue or Lane
You get the idea - generally speaking in Auchterness we have decided to change any street containing the word Victoria, Anne, Albert, Elizabeth, Alfred, George, Charles, Edward, Edgar, Harold, William, Henry, Stephen, Richard or John. These will be substituted by Kenneth, Donald, Malcolm, Duncan, Alexander, David, Robert, William Wallace (complete name only), Mary and Macbeth as appropriate.  These can be combined with most last names that have a tartan or used as in the tradition of the double name  - for example Alexander Alexander Street or Donald McDonald Road.

If these names are problematic, we suggest Nicola, Michael, Fiona, Keith, Shona, Fergus, Derek, Aileen and Alasdair - NB not Alistair as in Darling.

Every large settlement should have a street with a grand name that embodies the Referendum date - for example Malcolm Alexander 18 September Avenue. 

Streets which take their names from English places or destinations may be acceptable - for example Berwick Road can be appropriate and helpful if you are in Eyemouth while London Road in Glasgow should be renamed with a closer Scottish destination in the same direction - for example Gretna Road or Ecclefechan Road.

Large ceremonial streets will also be a major issue. Closest to my heart is Union Street in Aberdeen which will no longer be able to retain that name. I suggest Referendum Street or to follow continental practice, it could be renamed as 18th September Avenue. We discussed Freedom Way and Braveheart Boulevard but felt that these were not serious suggestions. Of course Union Terrace Gardens, Union Grove, Union Square Shopping Mall and Victoria Park will all have to go. Regent Quay, Waterloo Quay and Wellington Street may all have to have their nameplates torn down too.

Keith also has the Union Street, Terrace, Lane and Court problem as well Nelson Terrace. It's a big headache for cash-strapped local authorities. But the more you think about it, it could be the perfect regeneration opportunity.

These are just some early thoughts - happy to hear from you about other place names which may have problems. Just don't mention the Royal Town Planning Institute - yet. It might never happen though!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A remarkable piece of "thought leadership", as we used to call it at Wolverhampton Business School.